ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on the Senate floor Wednesday praised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for his “serious,” “thoughtful” and “unique proposal” that could go “a long way toward resolving the impasse” over how to raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the August 2 deadline.
Reid stopped short of endorsing McConnell’s “last choice option,” though and said that he is still considering the proposal. Reid will meet with the Senate Democratic leadership at 11 a.m. today, a meeting called specifically to discuss the McConnell proposal with his fellow Democrats.
“I commend him for his thoughtful and unique proposal, “I’m heartened by what I read. This is a serious proposal. I commend the Republican leader for coming forward. But I believe that the Republican leader's proposal combined with ideas he and I have been discussing to force a vote on deficit reduction proposals could go a long way toward resolving the impasse we now find ourselves.”
This afternoon Congressional leaders will again meet with President Obama at the White House, their fourth meeting in as many days.
Reid’s remarks reflected a somewhat new optimism – at least in rhetoric – that has been lacking from the public debate in recent days, even though the impasse between the two parties, and even within the parties, still remains.
“I'm confident that somehow, some way we'll find a way to get this done,” Reid said. “I urge my Republican colleagues to remember this. We’re not opponents squaring — opponents squaring off across a baseball diamond or some playing field. We’re on the same team with the same goal in mind.”
McConnell took to the floor this morning to lay out his “last choice option” as proposed first yesterday.
“If the White House continues to insist on either tax hikes or default, then we'll send legislation to the president that requires him to propose spending cuts greater than the debt limit he requests. Make the president show in black and white the specific cuts he claims to support. If he refuses, he'll have to raise the debt ceiling on his own.”
Or put simply by the Minority leader, “he's forced to simply put up.”
McConnell says he still believes there is room to work and compromise and that he hopes they will not get to any of the last choice options.
“So over the next several days, Republicans will redouble our efforts to avoid all four scenarios,” McConnell said, “ Americans don't want tax hikes, they don't want phony spending cuts, they don't want a debt disapproval plan. And they don't want us to default on our debts. They want real cuts and real reforms now. And that's what Republicans will spend the next two weeks fighting for.”
McConnell pitched for a Balanced Budget Amendment, which the House of Representatives will take up next week, and all 47 Republicans in the Senate support.
“The constitution must be amended to keep the government in check. We’ve tried persuasion, we've tried negotiations, we've tried elections. Nothing has worked. If the president won't do something about the debt, we'll go around him and take it to the American people.”